Efforts to establish an American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt date back to the 1950s, when Hassan El Abd initiated the idea. But political changes within Egypt kept the idea dormant until 1974, when President Anwar El Sadat initiated the "Open Door" policy.
A by-product of the policy was the formation of the Egypt-U.S. Joint Business Council. Twice yearly, this group of top-level Egyptian and American business executives met to discuss Egyptian business issues. The first resolution of the Council in 1974 called for the creation of an American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.
Finally, after seven years of intermittent efforts to found the Chamber, some substantive progress was made in 1981 under the organization of George DeBakey of Rockwell International. He recruited prominent Egyptian and American business leaders who shared his commitment to a chamber. President Sadat was an enthusiastic supporter of these initial efforts, but his assassination brought uncertainty again to the plans. In 1981, President Hosni Mubarak also recognized the need to have an organization committed to fostering commercial and investment ties between Egypt and the United States and, in October 1981, he issued an order for the Chamber′s establishment.
An organizing committee was created and met weekly from July 1982 to January 1983. September 1982 saw the commencement of a membership drive that resulted in 120 charter members by the following January. In October, AmCham held its inaugural luncheon meeting with Egypt′s minister of investment Dr. Wagih Shindy as the featured speaker. On that occasion, congratulatory messages were received from the U.S. secretary of state on behalf of the president of the United States and from the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber′s second meeting in November, a draft constitution and set of bylaws were circulated to the membership, and nominations for the first Board of Governors were solicited. At the December meeting, nominations for the first Board of Governors were announced, and Basil Nikas was chosen as acting president.
The constitution and bylaws outlined the following goals of an American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt: to create a friendlier business environment by facilitating communication between businessmen; to provide a network for sharing business information about Egypt and addressing common problems; to represent the views of American businessmen in Egypt to public and private interests in the United States; and to establish a line of communication between businessmen and the Egyptian government, helping to "improve the atmosphere" for business in Egypt.
The Chamber in Egypt was the 44th American Chamber of Commerce to be established abroad and the first in the Middle East. On January 18, 1983, the Chamber elected its first Board of Governors.
(last updated: 15-November-2002)
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